The Edge of Everything - Jeff Giles
X is no ordinary bounty hunter. He is from a hell called the Lowlands, sent to claim the soul of Zoe's evil attacker and others like him. Forbidden to reveal himself to anyone other than his victims, X casts aside the Lowlands' rules for Zoe. As X and Zoe learn more about their different worlds, they begin to question the past, their fate, and their future. But escaping the Lowlands and the ties that bind X might mean the ultimate sacrifice for both of them.
Fans of Teen Wolf and similar narratives involving insta-love, bounty hunters from hell, and plenty of intrigue, danger, and melodrama--this book is for YOU! I was hooked within the first chapter. I was all, "Whaaaaaaa?!" And that's exclamation pretty much continued for the majority of the book, so hopefully that tells you something about Giles' ability to write a compelling adventure/romance/supernatural narrative!
The focus of the novel is Zoe (though I would argue that Jonah, her little brother, captured my heart a bit more in terms of sympathetic-ness) and the ways that she and her family are dealing with the loss of her father. One night during a blizzard, she loses her brother and heads out into the storm to find him. The two, along with their dogs, manage to find their way to an abandoned house that used to belong to two older folks who were killed years earlier.
Of course, nothing can go super swimmingly in an adventure story, and soon the siblings find themselves in trouble, with a dangerous man threatening to kill them and drown their dogs in the lake. But just as the danger is inevitable, so is a rescue, and sure enough, along comes X to save the day! But who the hell (pun intended) is X? Where did he come from and why did he rescue them? So many questions!? Giles creates strong characters (including secondary characters) and settings. Ripper and Banger, X's fellow bounty hunters, are almost as fully realized as the so-call protagonists of the novel. The snow is so deliberately described, that I defy readers NOT to feel cold when they read the book!
All of this being said, I do have a few critiques, one of which is the treatment of mental disability. I love Jonah, really! That being said, his condition is only ever discussed as ADHD, however his voice and the ways in which he reacts to stressful situations feels more like a child on the autism spectrum instead, or at least in combination with. There is also the flippant reference to OCD about two thirds of the way through the book. A character named Dallas states, "turns out I have a little OCD." Of course, it's more that Dallas is just more of a perfectionist when it comes to organizing his climbing equipment. There is a lot of discussion about the flippant usage of OCD as a label in YA, so I felt this was a necessary point to reference in my review, even if it is only a momentary occurrence.
Told in a third person perspective, alternating between Zoe and X and then sometimes both together, this novel examines the spaces between earth and hell, and creates a mythos in which readers are exposed to the politics and internal workings of the Lowlands. This book will certainly appeal to a LOT of readers!
(NOTE: This review is from an Advance Reading Copy - Jan. 31, 2017)